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Holiday Home Care: Risk Prevention Lists and Tips

A recap of our 2019 Winter Risk Prevention.

It's the holidays! One of the most wonderful times of the year. To make sure we all make it out in one piece happy and a few pounds heavier, here's some advice for homeowners to minimize the chance of holiday season accidents.

To cover your back and bank, get home insurance. Make sure you find the best rate to protect your most important investment. Insuring your house means that if some unwanted accident occurs, a third party will cover some expenses. Plus, there are specific incidents companies cover during the holidays.

Remembering to be careful while having fun is important, there are some holiday activities that can harm a home if precautions are not taken.



Trees are the reason for more than 25% of fires. To avoid accidents, follow these precautions: 

  • Buy a fresh tree with hydrated green needles that do not fall off when you touch them.
  • Before inserting the tree into its stand, trim the trunk to ensure good water penetration.
  • Place the tree at least three feet away from heat sources or open flames, fireplaces, lamps, heating vents and/or radiators.
  • Do not place the tree in a space that blocks an exit or creates an exit hazard.
  • Refill the tree stand’s water reservoir every day.
  • Discard the tree after it becomes dry and needles start to fall on the floor. Many communities have tree disposal programs.
  • and never decorate with candles or flame ornaments.

Artificial trees are also a risk since they are sold as pre-lit decorative trees. Even if manufacturers assure they are flame resistant, best take precautions.



Holiday indoor and outdoor lights can become a hazard. Follow these recommendations to keep your family safe.

  • Use certified lights. 
  • Be careful when deciding to use lights that are designed for outdoor use on an indoor tree. Utilize items as they are intended to be used.
  • Before placing lights on the tree, you must check for loose or broken bulbs or exposed wires, replacing these is a must. 
  • Do not overload power strips, and only use strips equipped with circuit breakers or surge protection.
  • Turn off lights when you go to bed or leave home, even if you’re only leaving for a few minutes.
  • Never use extension cords designed for indoor use for outdoor lighting or holiday displays.
  • Use low-heat LED strip lights on trees and shrubs.
  • Do not stretch extension cords across dry grass or through water puddles.
  • Never decorate dry or dead trees.



Holiday celebrations have the highest number of fires, since the number of cooking hours increase, and distractions can result in chaos. Please pay attention to the following recommendations.

  • Keep children away from stoves and heating appliances.
  • Do not make dishes overnight, remaining close to your kitchen while cooking.
  • Plugging appliances into an extension cord can create an accident, to avoid, plug them directly into an outlet.
  • Never use a deep-fat turkey fryer indoors, even in a garage. Place the turkey fryer on concrete that is at least three feet from dry grass or shrubs. 
  • Do not place flammable materials near stove burners. Likewise, do not wear baggy clothes when cooking to prevent contact with stoves. Keep your hair away from the heat as well.
  • Clean grease from stovetops and countertops to avoid flare-ups.



We agree, real candles are better than fake ones, but they're equally more dangerous. Here are some tips:

  • Never leave candles unattended. Extinguish candles before going to bed, when you leave home and even when you leave the room for more than a couple of minutes.
  • Keep candles out of reach of kids and pets.
  • Never place candles less than three feet away from flammable materials such as beds, carpeting, curtains, holiday trees, sofas, and tablecloths.
  • Don’t let candles burn to their base. Extinguish them when they reach two inches from the holder.
  • Avoid wearing baggy clothing around candles and secure long hair in a ponytail, bun or head covering.
  • Secure matches and lighters out of reach of children and at least four feet from open flames.
  • Don’t use candles for outdoor decoration.



A hearth at the heart of a living room is arguably the best place to be during the holidays. That said, we're playing with fire by having them in our homes. Take these steps if you want to live to see the ball drop.

  • Hire a licensed specialist to inspect and clean your fireplace and chimney before the cold winter months arrive.
  • Keep fireplaces clean by promptly removing ash and coals after each use.
  • Store combustible materials such as newspaper, kindling, and wood three to four feet away from the fireplace.
  • Always open the flue before starting a fire and avoid closing it until the fire has completely burned out.
  • Use only matches or lighters to start a fire.
  • Prevent embers from escaping the fireplace by placing a metal mesh or glass screen in front of it. Attached glass doors provide the best protection.
  • Always use dry wood in your fireplace because wet wood can cause a chimney fire if creosote buildup occurs.
  • Do not use your fireplace to dispose of items such as boxes or wrapping paper, because some materials produce toxic fumes when burned.
  • Never burn a holiday tree in a fireplace.
  • Always extinguish a fire before going to bed or leaving home.
  • Store fireplace ash in a metal can, at least 10 feet from your house and store dry firewood at least 30 feet from your house.
  • Remove tree branches that grow over your chimney and keep the roof around your chimney free from leaf and pine needle debris.
  • Fit your chimney with a chimney cap to prevent embers from escaping and keep animals and leaves out.
  • Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your home. Many insurance companies offer discounts for installing these safety devices.
  • Do not allow small children or pets within three or four feet of your fireplace, especially when the screen is removed or glass doors are open.



To protect your family and assets during the cold months, you can take additional steps:

  • Have your furnace inspected and cleaned before winter arrives by a technician that has earned North American Technician Excellence certification.
  • Never operate your furnace with a dirty burner or filter.
  • Make sure your furnace’s door panel remains closed during use to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Never store combustible materials near your furnace, including boxes, gasoline cans, and newspapers.

Lastly, keep the sidewalks and entrances of your home free from snow and ice. You don't want anyone to slip or fall. Homeowners must keep these reminders in mind and practice them to keep your loved ones safe this holiday season.